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Evidence for basal cavity opening from analysis of surface uplift during a high-velocity event: Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland

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High rates of surface uplift and horizontal velocities were measured during a hydrologically induced spring speed-up event. Spatial patterns of surface uplift are analyzed to estimate components of vertical motion due to flow along an inclined bed and vertical strain. Areas are identified where surface uplift was most likely due in part to the opening or enlargement of subglacial cavities by bed separation. Results suggest a widespread enlargement of subglacial cavities during the event, and survival of residual cavities after the event. The spatial pattern of cavity enlargement closely matches previously identified axes of preferential subglacial drainage. It is suggested that localized cavity opening along axes of preferential drainage may constitute the initial stage in the seasonal development of channelized subglacial drainage. It is concluded that spatial and temporal variations in glacier motion may play an active role in determining the structure and rate of development of subglacial drainage during the summer melt season.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-03-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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